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United States

Trial begins for yoga teacher accused of murdering identical twin sister by driving off Hawaii cliff

Alexandria Duval was allegedly engaged in a hair-pulling argument with sister Anastasia when their car plunged 60 metres

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 10:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 10:30am

A murder trial began Monday for a woman accused of deliberately driving off a cliff in Hawaii and killing her identical twin sister.

The 2016 crash was a tragic accident, Alexandria Duval’s defence attorney, Birney Bervar said in his opening statement. There’s reasonable doubt of any criminal behaviour, he said.

Authorities described the 2016 crash as a hair-pulling fight over the steering wheel. The sisters, who were 38 at the time, were seen arguing on the narrow, winding Hana Highway on the island of Maui before their SUV plunged 60 metres over a oceanside cliff and onto the rocks below.

Anastasia Duval was in the passenger seat and was killed, and her sister Alexandria Duval was arrested. A judge later ordered Alexandria Duval released after finding no probable cause for a murder charge. She travelled to upstate New York and was arrested again months later in Albany after a grand jury indicted her.

Duval opted to have a judge instead of a jury decide the case. The judge is expected to reach a verdict this week.

Maui resident Chad Smith testified that while the women were passing him on the highway he could see them arguing. Smith, who was headed to a church, said he couldn’t hear anything but the women looked angry. He had to swerve out of their way, he said.

The sisters, born Alison and Ann Dadow in the Utica, New York, area, operated popular yoga studios in Florida before they changed their names. They moved to Hawaii in 2015 from Utah.

Duval isn’t expected to testify, Bervar said.